JC / Railbird

Revisiting the Past

Colin’s Ghost asks, who really invented race charts?

Claire Novak, doing research in the National Museum of Racing, recently came across the work of Charles E. Van Loan, a popular sports writer of the early 20th century (and the man responsible for bringing Damon Runyon to the New York American). She shared a link to one of his long out-of-print books, “Old Man Curry: Race Track Stories,” a collection originally published in 1917, available through Project Gutenberg. It’s a quick summer read, packed with rich scenes from the backstretch and colorful characters — not to mention an introduction with laments that sound awfully familiar — and I enjoyed it, despite aspects disturbing to a reader of the 21st century. Be advised: some dialogue and descriptions are very much of the era.

Santa Anita is returning to dirt, announced Frank Stronach.